Hanko leaving open space board after 46 years, Holman running to replace her

Nonette Hanko, left, and Karen Holman
Nonette Hanko, left, and Karen Holman

By the Daily Post staff

Nonette Hanko, who has served on the board of directors of the Midpeninsula Regional Open Space District since its inception in 1972, will not seek re-election this fall and the only candidate running for her seat is Palo Alto City Councilwoman Karen Holman.

Holman, after eight years on council, will leave council in December due to term limits.

Today (Aug. 10) was the last day for candidates to file for the Nov. 6 election. But because the incumbent is not running again, the filing deadline has been automatically extended until Wednesday.

(Here are the candidate lists for Santa Clara and San Mateo counties.)

In 1970, Hanko, along with a handful of open space advocates, spearheaded the two county initiative to preserve the foothills by forming the open space district.

Hanko, 86, has been a Palo Alto resident since 1951.

According to the district’s website, she has been recognized for her preservation efforts and has been featured as one of the living visionaries of Bay Area open space in photographer/author Galen Rowell’s book “Bay Area Wild,” received the World of Out of Doors Award from the Girl Scouts in Santa Clara County, and was recipient of the prestigious “Creators of the Legacy” honor as part of the Palo Alto Centennial.

Holman has been a strong advocate for the environment and open space while on council. She was co-chair of the Mid-Peninsula Regional Open Space Advisory Committee in 2015 and 2016.

The open space district is led by a seven-member board of directors. The directors are elected by district. In the November election, the seats for District 1, 2, 5 and 6 are up for grabs.

Hanko holds the District 5 seat representing East Palo Alto, Menlo Park, part of Palo Alto and part of Stanford.

District 2 — covering another section of Palo Alto, Los Altos, Los Altos Hills, Sunnyvale, Cupertino, a portion of Stanford — is represented by former Palo Alto Councilwoman Yoriko Kishimoto. Nobody signed up to run against her in November.

District 1 represents Cupertino, Los Gatos, Saratoga and Monte Sereno. Incumbent Pete Siemens, a former Los Gatos councilman, will face Mike Buncic, a biology teacher who lives in Los Gatos.

In District 6, incumbent Larry Hassett, a La Honda resident, will face Portola Valley architect Carter Jensen Warr. The territory for District 6 includes Atherton, La Honda, Loma Mar, Menlo Park, Pescadero, Portola Valley, Redwood City, San Gregorio and Woodside.

The other directors, whose terms are not up this year, are Jed Cyr (Ward 3), Curt Riffle (Ward 4) and Cicily Harris (Ward 7).


  1. Congratulations on a wonderful career to Ninette Hanko. Since she as the incumbent is not running, the nomination period for others is now extended to Aug 15. Might be good to clarify for the residents.

  2. Hard to imagine what would have happened to the foothills if the open space movement hadn’t started. Thank you Nonette for getting this started. What a wonderful legacy!

  3. Saving the foothills from development is an achievement that generations in the future will thank Nonette for. Congratulations Nonette for a job well done.

  4. Nonette Hanko is beyond inspiring. She is truly a strong and influential woman and a positive role model for the community. She has devoted her life to preserving and protecting nature; an accomplishment that will be recognized and cherished for many generations to come. I am sure younger generations will thank her for the hard work that was put into preserving this beautiful land. May her outstanding achievements never go unnoticed. Thank you Nonette for all that you have done and for all that you continue to do. You are an inspiration to us all to become more active in our community and to never give up, never stop fighting to protect our rights, and especially to never stop fighting for what we believe in. Thank you for never giving up despite the hardships life threw at you. Nature is something that needs to be protected now and forever; it is a timeless concept that you yourself have helped to ensure by creating the Open Space District. God bless you. Sincerly, thank you.

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